Schumacher is given top billing by Mansell

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The Independent Online

Nigel Mansell has warned David Coulthard to forget about being world champion for the next few years as he believes no-one can challenge Ferrari and Michael Schumacher.

Mansell watched on Sunday as Schumacher clinched his fourth world-title with victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the 51st of his career to equal the record set by Alain Prost, another four-time champion.

For the 32-year-old German it was also his second successive triumph with Ferrari, with whom Mansell spent the 1989 and 1990 seasons and earned the nickname 'Il Leone' – The Lion – from the Tifosi because of his bravery.

But it was not until 1992 that Mansell finally captured his only world title – with Williams – after finishing as runner-up on three occasions in 1986, 1987 and 1991. And despite Coulthard's challenge this season, Mansell believes it will be some time yet before another Briton wins the world championship.

Mansell, now 48 and who keeps himself occupied with various business interests including a golf and country club, said: "I think what Michael has done is stunning. Michael's a great driver, one of the true greats, but what's more astonishing for me is the reliability Ferrari have demonstrated for both their drivers this year.

"It's unsurpassed and astonishing because both drivers have virtually finished every single race, and that's what wins the championships.

"But it's down to the whole team. I really do believe Ferrari are going to be even more sensational and so hard to beat during the next two to three years.

"If Ferrari maintain the impetus they currently have and given the personnel... then I can't see anyone stopping them for the next few years, not unless someone comes up with the perfect package."

Only Juan Manuel Fangio, who won five world championships in the 1950s, is stopping Schumacher being the most successful driver of all time.

Mansell, a clear Ferrari fan, added: "I think what Michael should be setting his sights on now is a fifth world title.

"That would be astonishing, and then to go on and set a new unbelievable record of a sixth. I honestly believe that is possible. The phenomenal thing for me as a race car driver is to see another driver with tremendous talent have the opportunity to succeed, with the team and sponsors and everybody behind him.

"Michael deserves that. He's put a lot of hard work in. Ferrari are revelling in this. It's wonderful and I hope for all of them it will continue for some time."

But Mansell is confident his own British record of 31 grand prix victories will remain intact, since Coulthard currently only has 11. He is also believes it will be difficult to come back from the disappointment the Scot has suffered this season.

"Obviously, I would like to see another British driver win the world championship soon," he said. "I know David had a great opportunity this year and at one point he looked very strong. But when you have reliability problems or when systems break down and you don't even get off the grid, then it's just a great shame and it's so difficult to come back at a team like Ferrari.

"So I'm comfortable sitting with 31 wins and being the most successful British driver, having surpassed Jackie Stewart's record of 27."